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Gloucestershire Business News

Rural Business Awards won by county firms

A quartet of winners awards and a runner-up trophy have been brought back to Gloucestershire from the Rural Business Awards South West.

Of the thirteen awards on the night four businesses from the county walked away with the top honours with more shortlisted.

The black tie evening saw hopeful businesses and guests from across the region gather to find out their fate.

Rapture & Wright, of Evenlode, won Best Rural Creative or Media Based Business, while Vanessa Arbuthnott, of Cirencester, came runner-up in the same category.

Brockweir and Hewelsfield Village Shop Association (BHVSA), of Brockweir won the Rural Social Enterprise, Charity or Community Project of the Year category while Jolly Nice, of Tetbury, won Best Rural Food Business.

Hillside Brewery, near Longhope, won Best Rural Drink Business.

Rapture & Wright, BHVSA, Jolly Nice and Hillside Brewery will now go on to represent the region at the national final in February 2019.

Rapture & Wright designs and hand prints their own collections of high-quality fabrics and wallpapers.

The company was started in 2004 by Peter and Rebecca, who realised there was an opportunity to create interesting hand printed designs for a market that was dominated by a few large companies.

The ambition was to create a quality British product, seeking out the expertise offered by British suppliers, at a time when this industry was declining, savaged by offshoring.

Peter Thwaites, director at Rapture & Wright said: "Started in a barn on the family farm, unsuitable for modern machinery, our business has brought employment opportunities to the area and support for other rural businesses that supply us.

"We are thrilled to receive this award, and hope our success will inspire other creative businesses to seek out rural locations in which to base themselves."

Vanessa Arbuthnott started her business on the kitchen table 18 years ago.

For the first few years she worked after her four children were tucked up in bed and before they came down in the morning, rolling out the first orders on a table tennis table.

She currently has sixteen fabric collections, a mix of 100 per cent linen, linen union, organic cotton, velvets and Harris Tweed, complemented by wallpapers, rugs and accessories.

She also offers a made-to-measure service for curtains, blinds, cushions, quilts and lampshades, plus a carefully selected range of locally-made furniture, which can be ordered online or in her shop.

Brockweir and Hewelsfield Village Shop Association (BHVSA) is a community shop and cafe situated between the Forest of Dean and the Wye Valley, with the nearest towns a 14-mile round trip and a lack of public services, the shop and cafe provide vital services to the local community.

Apart from being a shop and meeting point, the project offers WiFi, postal services, parcel drop off, local gifts, advertises local events, sells tickets and provides a book swap as well as hosting craft groups, parish council meetings and being dementia friendly.

Chrissy Birch, a volunteer at the Brockweir and Hewelsfield Village Shop Association said: "We are unbelievably excited to receive the award for Rural Social Enterprise, Charity or Community Project of the Year.

"Brockweir and Hewelsfield Village Shop is run by the community, for the community, providing essential services to our remote village. As rural services are disappearing, it is social enterprises and charities that are stepping into the gap."

Jolly Nice are farmers and producers running an innovative farm shop, burger bar, ice cream parlour and butchery.

Conveniently positioned on a busy A-road in Gloucestershire, opening from 8am to 7pm, seven days a week, 364 days a year, Jolly Nice pride themselves on using the very best local and sustainable ingredients in all the food they make including traditional breed beef reared on their own farm for their famed Jolly Nice Burger.

Having started out with an airstream burger bar and three team members 4 and a half years ago, the have grown to a footfall of over 500 customers a day and 56 members of staff.

Jolly Nice's ice cream recipes have been formulated with precision using an old fashioned creme anglaise base which is the most expensive way to do it but also the most delicious.

Freddie Wilson, site supervisor for Jolly Nice said: "This is our third year of entering the Rural Business Awards, and we couldn't be happier to win the South West's Best Rural Food Business Award.

"We have seen incredible growth over the last four and a half years, and this award really gives us a chance to reflect on exactly how much we have achieved.

"Having encouragement from organisations like Amazon is a huge boost for us and we can't wait to achieve even more success in the coming years."

Hillside Brewery is a family owned and run business creating a range of traditional beers and one-off craft specials.

Hillside Brewery's joint owner, Paul Williamson, said: "Receiving the award for the Best Rural Drink Business is a real honour. We are really passionate about the ales we make, our use of local ingredients, and our links to the local community.

"This year has been our busiest yet, so this award really feels like a reward for all our hard work. The Rural Business Awards are an important celebration of the rural sector, and we have truly enjoyed being a part of them."

"Rural communities are home to some of the country's most inventive and innovative entrepreneurs and we want to celebrate their achievements and contribution through the Rural Business Awards," said Doug Gurr, UK country manager, Amazon, which sponsors the awards.

"I'd like to congratulate all the nominees and runners-up at this year's regional awards and wish the winners the best of luck ahead of the national final of the Rural Business Awards in February."

The South-West regional awards are sponsored by GigaClear, while Idealogy sponsors the Best Rural Food Business category.

Awards co-founder Jemma Clifford said: "We were blown away with the diversity of our entries this year so winning a prize is an extraordinary achievement - hearty congratulations to all five prize-winners from Gloucestershire."

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